A massive manhunt that spanned 1,000 miles ended in gunfire in the Idaho wild late Saturday afternoon — shots that ended the life of the family friend who was suspected of abducting 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and killing her mother and brother.
The teenager was rescued near Morehead Lake, Idaho, where an FBI tactical agent killed her alleged kidnapper, James DiMaggio, around 5:20 p.m (7:20 p.m. ET), authorities said.
On or about the afternoon of August 3, 2013, 16-year-old Hannah Anderson (born July 22, 1997) was abducted after cheerleading practice from Sweetwater High School in National City, California. The suspect was later identified by authorities as 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio, owner of a home in Boulevard, California, about an hour away, where Anderson, her mother Christina and brother Ethan had been overnight guests the previous evening. The bodies of Christina and Ethan Anderson and the family dog, Cali, were later found in DiMaggio’s burned home. An AMBER alert was issued for Anderson, who was found alive in Cascade, Idaho on August 10, a week after she was abducted. DiMaggio was killed by FBI agents during a shootout at the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, where he had been camping with Hannah Anderson.
James DiMaggio had invited Christina Anderson and her children to his home at 2071 Ross Avenue in Boulevard, ostensibly to say goodbye because he was planning to move to Texas. The Anderson family, who lived about 45 miles (72 km) away in Lakeside, stayed over at his home. The children’s father, Brett Anderson, was on a three-month job in Tennessee at the time.
On August 4, a fire was reported at DiMaggio’s house in Boulevard, where firemen found the bodies of Hannah Anderson’s mother, Christina, her 8-year-old brother Ethan and the family dog, Cali. Christina Anderson died of blunt force trauma, believed to have been caused by a crowbar. She was apparently tortured, and her body covered with a tarp. Cali was shot dead and covered with a sleeping bag. An arrest warrant was issued for DiMaggio.
In late September 2013, the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office released results of the autopsies of Christine and Ethan Anderson. The autopsy of Christine Anderson found that a plastic cable tie had been used to bind her ankles, and that duct tape was wrapped around her neck and mouth. Her right arm and both legs were fractured, and there was a cut on her neck. She had been struck at least twelve times in the head. The autopsy of Ethan Anderson determined that the boy died because of the fire, though he also had skeletal fractures that could have been caused by events the day of the murders.
On August 4, 2013, Anderson’s grandparents called the police and reported their grandchildren missing, prompting police to issue a statewide AMBER Alert, the first alert sent out to cellphones in California. As the child’s body found in the burned-out home was burned beyond recognition, the AMBER Alert included both Hannah and Ethan Anderson. The manhunt stretched from British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico.
Sightings in Idaho
On August 8, two people meeting the description of DiMaggio and Anderson were seen by horseback riders in Cascade, Idaho. The next day, authorities were notified of this sighting after the riders watched a news report about the abduction.
Shooting and rescue
According to Hannah Anderson, DiMaggio, while they were fugitives, had threatened to kill her and anyone who tried to rescue her. On the same day that the sightings were reported, DiMaggio’s car, a blue Nissan Versa, was discovered near the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. The car’s license plates had been removed and brush was used to hide the vehicle. On August 10, police discovered DiMaggio’s campsite and an FBI tactical agent killed DiMaggio near Morehead Lake around 5 pm. DiMaggio fired at least one shot at the officers, causing the officers to fire back and kill him. DiMaggio was shot at least five times: in the head, arms, and upper torso. Anderson had no visible injuries, but was taken to a local hospital for crisis counseling. Afterwards, when asked if she was glad DiMaggio was dead, Anderson responded, “Absolutely”.
James Lee DiMaggio (January 17, 1973 – August 10, 2013), age 40, was a telecommunications technician in San Diego. According to a friend of DiMaggio, his father, James Everet DiMaggio, died exactly 15 years to the day before his son. The friend said the elder DiMaggio, who was accused of attempting in 1988 to kidnap the 16-year-old daughter of an ex-girlfriend, committed suicide in August 1998. However, public records indicate his suicide was on August 10, 1995.
DiMaggio was said to be the best friend of Christina’s husband, Brett Anderson, and like an uncle to the children. He had helped them with various tasks, such as driving Hannah and a friend from a gymnastics meet, during which he had unnerved her by saying he would like to date her, if they were the same age. During a trip to Los Angeles with Anderson, DiMaggio also complained she “wasn’t paying enough attention to him.” Anderson’s friends said she did not like being alone with him and was “creeped out” by his comments on the drive from the meet.
DiMaggio listed Brett Anderson’s mother as beneficiary to his life insurance in 2011, while he lived with her. He intended the $112,000 for the children, but did not trust their parents to handle it. This revelation prompted members of DiMaggio’s family to request a paternity test to determine if he fathered the Anderson children. Brett called the suggestion “disgusting” and an Anderson family spokeswoman said DiMaggio had not met Christina till she was six months pregnant with Hannah. The DiMaggio family later withdrew their request for DNA testing.
According to released warrants, DiMaggio received letters from Hannah Anderson which were found in his home by investigators, and exchanged over a dozen calls with her before the murders occurred. However, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Anderson was “a victim in every sense of the word” and did not willingly go with DiMaggio. Investigators do not suspect any complicity on her part. Gore also suggested that authorities may never be able to fully determine the reason for DiMaggio’s crime rampage.